By Anne Leader and Jennifer D. Webb

Carlo Ceresa was long believed to have died on 10 February 1670 in Bergamo although, based on his final testament dated to January 30, we know that he died on January 29. The document notes that he left everything in his workshop to his sons who had likely been working alongside him since the early 1650s.

Many of his religious painting are still located in the north Italian churches–like the parish churches of San Gallo and Sant’Antonio Abate near Bergamo–for which they were executed. Ceresa is, however, best known as a portrait painter; he worked extensively for the Vertova family and other north Italian elites. 

Trained in the Late Mannerist style, Ceresa’s style evolved over his career. His biographer, Francesco Maria Tassi, noted the influence that Daniele Crespi’s forms had on Ceresa’s turn to naturalistic forms and use of spiritual light.

Ceresa’s depiction of San Vicenzo depicts the martyr dressed in contemporary clothing and kneeling with upturned eyes. Angels, carrying some of his attributes, frame the central figure and look out at the viewer. At the bottom of the panel and separated from the rest of the composition by a break in the clouds is a view of a section of Bergamo including the San Giacomo gate and the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. 

References: Francesco Frangi. “Ceresa, Carlo.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press; Davide Bonfatti Ed. Carlo Ceresa (1609-1679). Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2010.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

San Vicenzo, (1645-50). Oil on panel. Chapel of San Vicenzo, Duomo, Bergamo.

A Man with a Child. Oil on canvas. Auckland Art Gallery

Portrait of Camilla Spinola, ca. 1633. Oil on canvas. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg

Portrait of Bernardo Gritti, 1646. Oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Portrait of a Friar, 1650-53. Oil on canvas, Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

Further reading: Frangi, Francesco, Giovanni Valagu Simone Fachinetti, Carlo Ceresa (1609-1679): Un pittore del Seicento Lombardo tra Realta e Devozione. Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2012); Neilson, Nancy Ward. Daniele Crespi. Soncino: Del Soncino, 1996.

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